The RM of Portage la Prairie approved an increase to residents' water bills at todays, January 10th, RM Council meeting.

Roy Tufford, the RM councillor for Ward 4, says that this increase was pretty much a rubber stamp.

He explains that the RM gets its water from the City of Portage la Prairie and Cartier Regional Water.

"I really don't know the background as to why the city is increasing our cost, but it probably stands to reason that if Cartier had to increase their cost to us as a supplier of water to our residents, that the city would have to be doing the same thing."

Tufford, who also sits on the Cartier Regional Water board, says that the organization, at the current rate, would not be able to cover costs adequately to build up reserves and repay its debt.

"The Water Services Board calculates what they think the rate increase should be," continues Tufford. "And they make recommendations to Cartier Regional Water Board, and then Cartier Regional Water can do what it likes in terms of increasing the rate."

He adds that Cartier Regional Water did take the increase, which was recommended and even went a little higher, although he speculates that this will only cost consumers $20-24 extra per year.

"The RM of Portage is also passing on that exact same increase to its ratepayers, so it's like a flow-through. It's just a no-brainer kind of rubber-stamping type of bylaw that we did."

Tufford notes that he would expect water rates to continue to increase in this area due to water becoming more expensive.

"The membranes that are used in the processing thing are not lasting nearly as long as the manufacturer said they would, and it may be something specific to Assiniboine River water. We're not sure, and we're doing research into that now. But because those membranes are so expensive and they're only last two years instead of five, the cost of producing water has gone up."